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Can I grow carnivorous plants?

Lots of people want to grow carnivorous plants, but don’t because they think these plants are too hard. When most of us think about carnivorous plants we think of plants which are difficult to grow outside of greenhouses, plants which need constant tropic like conditions and are so fragile they need to be contained in plastic domes for their own protection. Chances are you’ve already had a carnivorous plant that didn’t make it too, further perpetuating the myth these plants are hard to grow.

In reality, most carnivorous plants are hardy perennial plants which readily lend themselves to growing exceptionally well outside, in places like Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra to name a few. There are of course tropical carnivorous plants, like low land Nepenthes which require constant warmth and the protection a greenhouse offers, but they are the exception, not the rule.

So, can you grow carnivorous plants? Yes, if you choose the right plants. At Compass Carnivores, we specialize in selling carnivorous plants which can be readily cultivated in Australia. That’s not to say these plants can be neglected. But rest assured, none of our plants absolutely need specialized growing areas like greenhouses or equipment like heat beds and misting systems.

What’s involved in growing carnivorous plants?

We’ve already established what’s not needed, but what does it take to grow carnivorous plants?

The first thing you’ll need is a sunny spot. A place that gets at least 4 – 6 hours of sun in summer is ideal. Preferably outside, but a sunny and bright spot inside by a window will also work. Growing inside can present some unique challenges, so we recommend growing outside and bringing your plants inside for a short time every now and again, if you really want carnivorous plants inside with you. Plants grown full time inside will be weaker, more susceptible to rot, mold and fungus, and not as colorful.

Generally, grow carnivorous plants in plastic pots sitting in a plastic tray filled with water. The water prevents the plants from drying out, provides bottom watering and helps increase humidity around the plants. Plus it mimics their natural habitat, pocosin bogs.Never, ever let a carnivorous plant completely dry out.

As the weather warms up, increase the depth of the water. In summer, having a Pitcher plant or Venus Fly-Trap standing in water 1/2 – 3/4 the depth of the pot is going to make for a very happy plant. You see, where these plants come from, most of the annual rainfall happens in summer. So the warmer it gets, the wetter it gets.

Most of our plants appreciate a naturally cool winter. Venus Fly-Traps, Pitcher Plants and many Sundew plants require a dormancy period. Dormancy is largely triggered by the reduction in day length. Despite popular belief, carnivorous plants need to be outside over winter. Trying to skip dormancy and keep your plants growing over winter will kill it.

Carnivorous plants can tolerate light frosts, short freezes and even snow. Australian climate does not prohibit growing and enjoying these beautiful and unique plants.

I want to point out, plants in dormancy look terrible. They are small, often covered with dead foliage and sometimes even retreat to underground. The plant is resting, not dead. Don’t make the mistake of throwing it away. Come spring, new growth will take off like a rocket. See Venus Fly-Trap Dormancy for more information about dormancy.

The amount of time and effort it takes to grow carnivorous plants is entirely up to you. A few plants will take just five minutes a day to top up water levels in trays. The more time you spend with your plants, the more you’ll want to spend. Dead heading, dividing, re-potting and generally appreciating these unique plants are all quite addictive activities.

For more information, check out Here’s the four commandments for cultivating happy, healthy Venus Fly-Traps.

If you’ve got any questions or concerns about growing your plants, please reach out to us. We are more than happy to help and discuss specific concerns.

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